Stranger In An Even Stranger Land - blog by Gurdur


A blog of random jottings on events, science, renfairs, travel, reading, music, humanism, religion, atheism, and even the odd spot of gardening.


And now that book will never be written. My personal tribute to Sir Terry Pratchett

Posted 12-Mar-2015 at 08:58 PM (20:58) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)

I first met Terry Pratchett around twenty years ago, at a SF/fantasy convention in the Netherlands. I had not read any of his books, and I had thought they must be silly because of the book-cover design. This was not the only huge mistake I was to make. A year later, and a neurology research colleague at Duesseldorf university recommended his books to me. Eventually I actually read one, and I was blown away, hooked for evermore. Once I actually read his books, the book-cover design made perfect...
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#FridayReads: my "Most Urgent" pile

Posted 20-Apr-2013 at 12:57 AM (00:57) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 20-Apr-2013 at 01:54 AM (01:54) by Gurdur

As usual, I am chaotic and random. Having had over a month of severe illness just behind me, I have a huge backlog of work, and part of all that is books I wish to review. These are a mixture of very new and very old books; I make no distinction on that score. They're also what pique my personal interest; I tend to only review books if I find them interesting myself. You might like a look at my "Most Urgent" stack of books to do; here it is, in descriptions and, below those, photos. The descriptions...
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Rating: 3 votes, 5.00 average.

A love-song to London: review of "Dodger", a historical novel by Sir Terry Pratchett

Posted 21-Sep-2012 at 07:56 PM (19:56) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 21-Sep-2012 at 08:56 PM (20:56) by Gurdur

Terry Pratchett has a very new novel out, "Dodger"; he describes it as a historical fantasy. Here is the USA edition, and here is the British edition (photos of which are below this post). The novel is very much a love-letter to London, and especially to the London of the later 19th century. When Sir Terry Pratchett talked about it at the recent DiscWorld convention in Birmingham, he said he had considered writing it as a DiscWorld story, but decided not to go that way, at a remove, but instead...
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Can a striped animal have a spotted tail? Videos of joint lecture by Jack Cohen and Ian Stewart

Posted 05-Sep-2012 at 05:38 PM (17:38) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 05-Sep-2012 at 06:25 PM (18:25) by Gurdur (Few typos corrected.)

A spotted animal can have a striped tail, but a striped animal cannot have a spotted tail. This was one of the great explorations of nature and mathematics in a joint lecture by Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen at the recent DiscWorld convention in Birmingham, UK. Ian Stewart is a world-famous British research mathematician and author; Jack Cohen is a world-famous British reproductive biologist and author. Both have collaborated with Sir Terry Pratchett to co-author three books on science and philosophy,...
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Photos of the 2012 #DiscWorld #DWcon convention in Birmingham, Britain

Posted 03-Sep-2012 at 10:53 PM (22:53) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 03-Sep-2012 at 11:02 PM (23:02) by Gurdur

At very long last I have finished captioning 134 photographs I made of the 2012 DiscWorld DWcon convention in Birmingham, Britain. Some of the photographs are not good; partly very poor lighting was too blame, and for a few, unnoticed rainspots on my camera lens for one day. A couple of them may be duplicates. In any case, they're all now organized into a gallery on this site, and here they are.

Please be aware it is 134 photos, spread out over 6 pages. Click on any pic to see the...
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Historical evidence for the existence of Bissonomy found

Posted 10-May-2012 at 07:18 AM (07:18) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 10-May-2012 at 08:27 AM (08:27) by Gurdur

Bissonomy was originally one of the 7a Virtues. Only everyone forgot what Bissonomy actually was. Everyone knows what prudence, charity, hope and grace are, no-one knows anymore what bissonomy was. All of that is detailed by Sir Terry Pratchett in various of his DiscWorld novels; you can read up all about Bissonomy here. Well, now, courtesy of @mariawolters and @langology who alerted me to this news article (though the DiscWorld Bissonomy connection is all my own fault), about the discovery of a...
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Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.

Fear of death, fear of life

Posted 04-Apr-2012 at 02:09 PM (14:09) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 04-Apr-2012 at 02:29 PM (14:29) by Gurdur

Sometimes I have no idea why so many think they fear death, when it's fairly clear they fear life more. Given I think that of others, then it's time to criticise myself to see how much I share that. Perhaps I have it too a tad more than desirable. Given the fact I was at death's door last week, earnestly, and not exactly over it yet, then an unspoken question from many is how scared do I get of death? I feel it being asked from others silently. And does it change the way I view things? Well, not...
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A Valentine's for you all, dear readers and tweeps

Posted 14-Feb-2012 at 11:14 AM (11:14) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 14-Feb-2012 at 11:59 AM (11:59) by Gurdur

I'm in a fairly moss-gathering mood as usual, and I thought I would do all of you a Valentine's card, and this is it. Gandalf in Lord Of The Rings describes Tom Bombadil as a moss-gatherer, and I'm a fair bit that way myself. In my recent post I said I didn't often do special days, but hey, some things are worth noting, yes? Since I feel like it, I'll return to my synaesthesia roots for this post, and mix music-videos, text and photos throughout this post. So be patient and look past the videos...
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Business as usual, now with Extra Cynicism ! David Cameron in Egypt and the Middle East

Posted 23-Feb-2011 at 02:31 PM (14:31) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 23-Feb-2011 at 02:56 PM (14:56) by Gurdur

So David Cameron pays a quick visit to Egypt before hitting the fleshpots of the Abu Dhabi arms market. Now that the Egyptians themselves have won democracy by their own actions, Cameron declares himself all in favour, and, to show his goodwill, immediately on his visit to Egypt as the very first thing offers to sell them armaments! Just in case you thought he might be going off the deep end a bit too much in favour of all that democracy jive, in the spirit of True Egalitarianism™ he offers...
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Some special Christmas cheer for all you clergy-people out there, from an atheist

Posted 23-Dec-2010 at 03:26 PM (15:26) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 23-Dec-2010 at 04:16 PM (16:16) by Gurdur

Hiya, all you clergy bloggers, I know sometimes it must feel decidedly ... tense to have some awkward, critical atheist like me constantly peering over your shoulder at your blog posts, and being all ... critical at times, so (with thanks and H/T to @RachelHovenden1) here's some special Christmas cheer for you from the skeptical atheist me!

And by the way, you should also read "The Hogfather" (USA edition, British edition) by Terry Pratchett.

Posted in Laughter
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Happy Advent, Chanukah, Season! Judaism, Christianity, atheism and skepticism in books and movies: some tips

Posted 03-Dec-2010 at 03:35 PM (15:35) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)

Time to wish everyone a happy season, Advent or Chanukah or any other festival you like! Pardon me wishing this a little after Advent and Chanukah began, but hey. Better late than never.

In the build-up to the next part, you may be looking for presents, or you may have some free time off and want to read or watch a movie. So here are some recommendations. They're not meant in any way to be an exhaustive list, just some tips of ones I found and really liked, novels and films which also...
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The theology of sausages: over-cooked but sizzling drama; Roland Boer versus the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) on the sausage-fest

Posted 02-Nov-2010 at 05:55 AM (05:55) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 03-Nov-2010 at 08:59 AM (08:59) by Gurdur

You didn't know there was a theology of sausages? There is one now, and what a one. Right in time for the 13th anniversary of British Sausage Week too! From the very moment of the conception of the theology of sausages, it was a toasted controversy. An academic theologian and blogger, Professor Roland Boer, submitted a paper titled, "Too Many Dicks at the Writing Desk, or, How to Organise a Prophetic Sausage-Fest", to be presented at the 2010 Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) to be held in November....
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Rating: 3 votes, 5.00 average.

More on the pressure tactics being used in a run-up to the Church of England Synod

Posted 21-Oct-2010 at 02:25 PM (14:25) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 21-Oct-2010 at 02:44 PM (14:44) by Gurdur

I blogged just the other day on a supposed press release quoted in Damian Thompson's blog on the Daily Telegraph, alleged to be from Evangelical and (Anglo-)Catholic groups in those elected to the upcoming Church of England Synod (which meets in November, to decide on things that include the proposed Anglican Covenant and the issue of women bishops). As I said at the time, I was somewhat suspicious of it, since I could find no independent verification of it on the net, but it looked plausible and...
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Rating: 3 votes, 5.00 average.

The city as haven of justice, and childrens' conceptions of justice

Posted 05-Oct-2010 at 09:35 AM (09:35) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 05-Oct-2010 at 04:42 PM (16:42) by Gurdur

I am currently preparing a blog post on the plight of Delfina Alvarez Selgado, unfairly accused by both police and apparently a segment of a nearby village. It made me think of a friend of mine I knew a fair while ago; she had been raped as a child while living in a village, and the bloody village had blamed her, despite her being a child at the time. Village life can be incredibly nasty, and there is no escape, unless you flee the village. It also makes me think of the movie The Last Valley (USA...
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Still catching up, tough choices

Posted 04-Sep-2010 at 01:43 PM (13:43) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 04-Sep-2010 at 02:06 PM (14:06) by Gurdur

I'm still catching up very slowly after having been away 10 days in Britain. There are things I want to blog separately on, like the meet-up between Lesley, Alan and myself, and then the meet up with Never and Lifelinking and his family; then the DiscWorld convention, on Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart, Jack Cohen. Then of course some of my standard fare; I need to do some blog posts on psychiatric/psycholology news and issues, some on general science. Then I need to particularly carry on my blog post...
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A bit on filming the Church of Om service, and on the 2010 DiscWorld Convention overall

Posted 02-Sep-2010 at 02:59 PM (14:59) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 02-Sep-2010 at 03:20 PM (15:20) by Gurdur

A couple of DWcon committee members, including Jerry Elsmore, kindly arranged permission for me to film this year's convention Church of Om service, featuring Lionel Fanthorpe and Mole as celebrants. I'll get my camcorder recording converted into Flash files as soon as possible and up on this blog. For my (admittedly bad) filming of the previous 2008 Church of Om service, DiscWorld convention, please see this blog post for Part A, comprising sections 1 and 2, then the blog post for Part B, comprising sections 3 and 4,...
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Humanism, science and religion overall and at the 2010 DiscWorld Convention

Posted 01-Sep-2010 at 03:34 PM (15:34) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 01-Sep-2010 at 04:37 PM (16:37) by Gurdur

There's often heated discussion on the complex relationships between science, religion and society, including on what the greatest human accomplishment has been. Some will claim science as the greatest human achievement to date, as does Alom Shaha in a Cif piece in the Guardian, but I don't agree; while science is incredibly useful and fascinating, science is not what makes us human or worthwhile. I tend to think it's ethics, or advanced symbolic art, which would be the real contenders for the title...
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Terry Pratchett on New Atheists at the 2010 DiscWorld Convention, and other things

Posted 30-Aug-2010 at 08:42 PM (20:42) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)

I had an interesting conversation with Terry Pratchett yesterday at one of the Klatches at the 2010 DiscWorld convention (which started Thurday and ends today, Monday); the Klatches are small group discussions with the speakers at the convention, speakers like Terry Pratchett, Jack Cohen, Lionel Fanthorpe, Ian Stewart, and so on). I asked Terry Pratchett about his ideas of the New Atheists, and his answer was, "[on this] I support the church", meaning basically that although he himself is an atheist,...
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The 2010 DiscWorld Convention with Terry Pratchett, Jack Cohen, Ian Stewart, Lionel Fanthorpe etc. main part, starts today

Posted 27-Aug-2010 at 10:01 AM (10:01) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)

There was a small part of the DiscWorld convention yesterday, but the main part begins today. I hope to be able to film the Church of Om service on Sunday, and to be able to get into some in-depth conversations with some of the authors who will be present, such as Terry Pratchett, Jack Cohen, Ian Stewart, Lionel Fanthorpe etc., over the next 3 days.

Today though, for part of the day, I make a bit of a side-trip excursion out to Cheltenham to meet up with a couple of other bloggers....
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Rating: 4 votes, 5.00 average.

Harry Potter and Hogwarts lose dragon, Dracorex hogwartsia; Terry Pratchett keeps prehistoric turtle, Psephophorus terrypratchetti

Posted 13-Aug-2010 at 03:34 PM (15:34) by Gurdur (Stranger In An Even Stranger Land)
Updated 11-Jul-2011 at 01:17 PM (13:17) by Gurdur

In a bit of a low blow to Hogwarts, Harry Potter, and J.K. Rowling, they're all losing their Dragon-King, Dracorex hogwartsia, whose biology Latin name means, "Dragon-King of Hogwarts". This unfortunate event is caused by a team of paleontologists who now believe that Dracorex hogwartsia is only a juvenile of Pachycephalosaurus. The Dracorex hogwartsia (pictures and links below) is a dinosaur with a rather beautifully bizarre set of horn-like projections on the back top of its head.
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